Final Fantasy XIV (ファイナルファンタジーXIV, Fainaru Fantajī Fōtīn), also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series, due for release in March 2011 for PlayStation 3 and September 30, 2010 for Microsoft Windows. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements. The game will be released in Japanese, English, French, and German.
The first stage of alpha testing began on March 11, 2010. This was announced at VanaFest 2010, an event to commemorate the eighth year of Final Fantasy XI. The second stage of alpha testing began on June 10, 2010. The PlayStation 3 release of Final Fantasy XIII contained a key for a chance to access a beta, to be held later in the year. Beta testing officially started on July 13th, 2010.
The "Standard Edition" PC version is due to be released on September 30, 2010, while the "Collector's Edition" is set for release a week earlier, on September 22, 2010. The PS3 version is dated for March 2011.
The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".
The North American official website was updated October 7, 2009 and explains about the Job System, also known as The Armoury System. By wielding different weapons and even crafting tools, players will be able to take on the role of their choosing such as Gladiator or Thaumaturge. In general, the different roles are divided into four disciplines: Disciples of War (masters of combat arms), Disciples of Magic, Disciples of the Land (gatherers of material resources and students of the natural order), and Disciples of the Hand (crafters who invest their creative ingenuity in synthesis and industry). The crafting system will be a part of the Armory System; when a player decides to wield a Blacksmith hammer, their appearance will change and they will become a blacksmith. The same goes for harvesting tools; a player will be able to equip them and their appearance will change. They will then take on the role of a resource gatherer.
Square Enix is looking for a way to allow users to transfer their game names to the new MMORPG. The developers say that, in addition to Final Fantasy XI, games that have also influenced Final Fantasy XIV include World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Diablo and Warhammer Online; however, they have also stated that their most important influence is player feedback. Chocobos will also return, but in a different role than in Final Fantasy XI.
In a DVD included with the September 2009 edition of Famitsu magazine, Nobuaki Komoto announced that while Final Fantasy XIV will include XI's job system, it will return to focus on weapons and skills, and will not have experience points or a leveling system. This would have been the third time since Final Fantasy II that the series had seen this kind of change. However, as revealed by game-play footage during the first open Alpha tests, players will accumulate experience points towards a player "Physical Level". The players physical level will affect attributes such as HP (health/hit points), MP (magic/mana points), Strength, Intelligence, and other similar basic stats. There are no specific job-levels though, as seen in FFXI. The setting will also be changed from that of XI; while still set in a "high fantasy" world, the setting will be more modern than that of its predecessor and will include higher technology. The game will also include races "familiar" to players of Final Fantasy XI, but with new names and "other changes".
Eorzea's nations used to be constantly at war with each other until fifteen years ago when the Garlean Empire, a mysterious nation from the east, razed the mightiest of the city-states, Ala Mhigo. The nations decided to band together if they were to repel the invaders, but the Empire never came, leaving a state of détente throughout the land. The resulting peace has led to a wide swath of soldiers and mercenaries suddenly without a job, and so they are now forming guilds and going by a new name: adventurers.
- Limsa Lominsa
So far there are five confirmed playable races in Final Fantasy XIV, all similar to the races from Final Fantasy XI. The goal of the developers was to create an atmosphere of aesthetic familiarity to players of FFXI:
- Hyur (ヒューラン, Hyūran): A race that is more or less human. They are divided into the Midlanders and the Highlanders. The Midlanders place a heavy emphasis on education, and are generally considered to be the most cultured people of the world. Physically larger and bulkier than their Midlander cousins, the Highlanders once governed the grand city-state of Ala Mhigo, which was invaded and razed by the Garlean Empire. With their homeland destroyed and their numbers decimated, the Highlanders now eke out their existence as mercenaries.
- Elezen (エレゼン, Erezen): An elf-like race and the original inhabitants of Eorzea. They are divided into the Wildwood and the Duskwight Elezen. The Wildwood live in the forests and possess a keen sense of sight - a contributing factor in their unparalleled expertise as archers. The Duskwight are a reclusive clan who dwell in caves and caverns, which has given them a heightened sense of hearing. The two clans seem to dislike each other immensely.
- Lalafell (ララフェル, Raraferu): Physically diminutive humanoids of high agility and intelligence from the southern regions. They are divided into the Plainsfolk and the Dunesfolk. The Plainsfolk are a very earthy clan who thrive on the prairies. The Dunesfolk literally live on the backs of enormous beasts of burden and are known for wearing gemstones in their foreheads that signify their zodiacal signs.
- Roegadyn (ルガディン, Rugadin): A physically large and muscular race who hail from the northern regions. They are divided into the Sea Wolves and the Hellsguard. The Sea Wolves were once a band of fearsome pirates, but have since largely abandoned that lifestyle; presently they are normally employed as sailors or naval mercenaries. The Hellsguard dwell in a volcanic region and are said to be masters of the magical arts. It seems that only males of this race will be playable.
- Miqo'te (ミコッテ, Mikotte): Cat-like humanoids who are divided into two religious sects: the Seekers of the Sun, who are dedicated to the sun goddess Azeyma the Warden, and the nocturnal Keepers of the Moon, who are dedicated to the moon goddess Menphina the Lover. It seems that only females of this race will be playable.
The Classes will be divided up in to 4 "Disciplines". The Crafting Professions such as Gardeners and Blacksmiths have been included as classes, and the character will change into that job if it has the specific item equipped (i.e. If the character equips a hammer, he or she will become a blacksmith). Below is a list of the so far announced classes.
Disciples of War
Disciples of Magic
Disciples of the Land
Disciples of the Hand
In April 2010, Final Fantasy XIV entered into its alpha testing stage, which involves players from different parts of the world logging on at different times and testing what the development team at Square Enix had created. Square Enix has said that about 10% of the game is currently playable. The Alpha test ended on Saturday, June 19, 2010, after 11 weeks; beta testing began on July 10, 2010.
Final Fantasy XIV, previously codenamed Rapture (ラプチャー), was first mentioned in August 2005, when Square Enix announced they had begun working on a new MMORPG, but neither confirmed nor denied that it was a sequel to Final Fantasy XI, or that it was Final Fantasy-related. Hiromichi Tanaka, producer of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, stated in April 2006 that developers were working to make Rapture a worldwide release for the PlayStation 3 and Windows Vista, before announcing in February 2007 that the game was being developed for the Xbox 360 and for personal computers, and that it might be brought to the PlayStation 3 at some stage as well. Square Enix announced at GDC 2008 that the new MMO was being targeted at all aforementioned systems and hinted that Mac and Linux clients would not be out of the question.
On June 2, 2009, at the Sony E3 Conference, Final Fantasy XIV was officially announced for the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows through a trailer mixing pre-rendered CGI and actual in-game sequences running from the Crystal Tools engine. The game will be produced by the same team working on Final Fantasy XI including Hiromichi Tanaka, and will be directed by Nobuaki Komoto. Akihiko Yoshida is the art director, and Nobuo Uematsu is composing the music. The game will have cross-platform servers between PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows, making all servers accessible from any country. The game will be beta tested for longer than the 4 months that Final Fantasy XI was. The PlayOnline system will not be used for the game, but a solution is in the works for those wishing to easily switch between FFXIV and FFXI.
A 360 version of FFXIV was considered, being announced to be in talks with Microsoft to bring the game to the system. However, in an interview with Eurogamer, Tanaka stated that, "The main reason why we couldn't go with Xbox 360 was the Xbox Live system. [Live is] different to the normal internet environment, so when we wanted to introduce this game in the same environment as Windows PC it had to be PS3, so that was our choice. Microsoft has a different point of view: they want to have a closed environment for Xbox Live. We're still talking to... We couldn't come to an agreement on Xbox Live." FFXI was only allowed by SE onto Xbox Live as it only required a silver xbox live membership, therefore was not considered closed as did not require any additional fees to play.